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SGA votes to create undocumented student resource center, healthy food vending machines

Daniel Heuer | Staff Photographer
Senators present the 2024 dining experiences report at Monday’s Student Government Association Senate meeting.

Student Government Association senators passed 14 pieces of legislation during the last senate meeting of the 2023-2024 term.

The SGA Senate unanimously passed bills to create a resource center for undocumented students at GW, shift the student organization funding allocation process to an event-based funding model and install vending machines around campus that offer healthy food options. Senators also unanimously approved general allocations for student organizations for the upcoming fall semester.

Here are some of the meeting’s highlights:

Senators approve general allocations for student organizations and new event-based funding model

Maya Renteria, the director of the Legislative Budget Office, said student organizations requested a little more than $1.3 million from the SGA, but the senate was only able to allocate around $241,000 to the organizations.

“Once again, this just shows that what is asked of our budgets isn’t financially possible with the budget that we do have,” Renteria said. “So we do try our best to give every org what they need and to what is pertinent to their existence as an org.”

The current general allocations system allows student organizations to request funding from the SGA and gives organizations a set budget each semester. Under the new event based model proposed by SGA Vice President Demetrius Apostolis, student organizations will be able to receive funding based on what events they plan to host.

The senate unanimously passed a bill to shift the funding allocation process to an event-based funding model. Apostolis, who co-sponsored the bill, said it would make the process of funding allocation “less overwhelming” for student organizations because they will not have to plan out all of their finances at the start of each year.

“It’s also going to reward student orgs that are putting on events on campus,” Apostolis said. “The SGA’s primary purpose is to connect to the student body. This will encourage organizations to put on more events for the greater GW community as they will be able to receive more funding that way.”

Senators pass bill to support undocumented students 

Senators unanimously passed a bill to create a resource center for undocumented students at GW.

Bill sponsor SGA Sen. Diego Gonzalez (GWSB-U) said he wants GW to allow undocumented students to use their GWID numbers in place of a social security number to apply for jobs on and off campus. Gonzalez said schools like Georgetown University have advising offices to provide legal and financial support to undocumented students and he would like GW to create a similar support center.

GW currently provides resources for undocumented students including counseling services, health care from the Student Health Center and legal assistance through the Office of Student Life and Multicultural Student Services Center.

“I just want to ask that we take care of this small but important group of students at GW,” Gonzalez said.

Senators pass act to create permanent sub-committee on dining

SGA Sens. Izzy Brophy (CCAS-U) and Dan Saleem (CCAS-U) — the chair and vice chair of the Special Committee on Dining, which formed in May — presented the 2024 dining experiences report. Brophy said the dining experiences survey, launched in January and active until March, received 171 responses from students with 65 percent of respondents rating their experience at GW residential dining halls as “poor to fair.”

“That’s something that we should look at and really ensure that students are able to find food that fits their needs, that makes them feel good, because food is the first step in ensuring students are able to thrive academically here at GW,” Brophy said.

The senate unanimously passed an act to create a permanent subcommittee on dining after the SGA formed the Special Committee on Dining committee to address student concerns about health violations in University dining halls. Brophy said after a year of discussions with the administration and students, the sub-committee determined they have a “long way to go” before students feel “safe and secure” when eating at GW dining halls.

Brophy said the dining committee has spoken with students and dining administration about students’ health concerns in the dining halls throughout the year. She said the permanent committee will continue efforts to improve the quality of food handling on campus and increase the amount of labeling of food in the dining halls.

“The creation of a permanent subcommittee on dining ensures that there is a permanent group within the SGA Senate that’s exclusively focused on dining advocacy to ensure that students are able to sufficiently fuel themselves in order to excel academically and professionally during their time at GW,” Brophy said.

Senators approve creation of new student activities fee structure

Senators also unanimously passed a bill to create a student activities fee structure that will allow for the SGA and Program Board fees to increase along with rising costs from inflation. SGA Vice President Demetrius Apostolis, who sponsored the bill, said current funding is not enough to cover the rising costs student organizations face. Apostolis said he also wants the Office of Financial Aid to cover fees — which is included in tuition costs — for students who are unable to cover the costs because SGA and Program Board fees are not eligible to be covered by financial aid under the current fee structure.

“We want the fee to be adjusted with inflation and rising costs,” Apostolis said. “If we have additional student orgs on campus, obviously there’s going to be an increase in the amount of costs associated with that.”

Apostolis said he has been in communication with University President Ellen Granberg about creating the Student Fee Structure Act and the president’s office is “ready to make the change.”

Senators pass bill to implement vending machines with healthy food options

SGA senators voted to unanimously pass the Healthy Mind bill, which asks facilities to place vending machines around campus that offer healthy food options, like pre-packaged salads and wraps. SGA Sen. Diego Gonzalez (GWSB-U), who sponsored the bill, said many of the dining halls on campus are closed after 9 p.m. which leaves students without healthy options for meals.

“This will solve multiple issues, not only providing healthier choices for all students, but also being able to solve food insecurity as some of us might not have time to go grocery shopping and fully relied on dining planning and are unable to actually use it.” Gonzalez said.

Senators pass GWorld Digitization Act 

Senators unanimously approved the GWorld Digitization Act, which calls for officials to add an option for students to upload their GWorld cards to mobile phone wallets. SGA Sen. Ethan Lynne (CCAS-U), the bill’s sponsor and the vice president-elect, included implementing GWorld tap access technology in his campaign platform and said he is working with officials to add GWorld cards to mobile wallets.

Other business 

During the public comment period, Alfredo Granados, vice chair of GW Program Board, discussed attendance and student feedback from students about the Spring Fling and the Quavo concert at the Smith Center. Granados said the concert was attended by more than 2,300 students, the “largest and most hyped” Spring Fling concert in GW Program Board’s recent history.

“We are the only student organization on campus that plans events of this magnitude and caters to everyone in the GW community with no distinction,” Granados said. “From undergraduate students to graduate, medical, doctorate, law students and alumni, families, faculty and staff Program Board has come back and we’ll continue to bring campus experiences that will last for a lifetime.”

In honor of the last meeting of the term, senators passed six appreciation acts. The acts included The Geismar Greatness Act and the Apostolis Appreciation Act, which recognized which thanked SGA President Arielle Geismar and Vice President Apostolis for their accomplishments during their tenures.

Senators also unanimously passed appreciation acts for Apostolis’ Deputy Chief of Staff Neil Sairam, Chief of Staff Ishana Bandyopadhyay and a final bill for the entirety of the senate staff, thanking them for their work throughout the year.

The first meeting of the newly elected senate will be take place Tuesday.

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